I have never claimed to be the brightest bulb on the string. I have a horrible memory for details, am distracted easily, and have always found it difficult to concentrate on more than one thing at a time. So it is very rare for me to form a hard and firm opinion about current events, because I always have to take into consideration the very likely possibility that I am, if not exactly wrong, then at least a bit fuzzy in my facts.
That being said, there are several things that I believe I do know about the recent mass murders in Orlando. I know that there was a tragic and senseless loss of many lives that night, and that the friends and family of the victims are suffering greatly. I know that losing a loved one to violence is something that leaves a permanent scar on the soul and forever alters the way a person looks at the world. I know that even thinking about what happened for too long leaves most of us feeling sad, helpless and frustrated, no matter where we live.
I know that there are many theories about exactly why this happened, and that most people will choose to believe the theory that best suits their own world view. I know that there will be a slew of posts and comments about what caused this incident and what can prevent it from happening again, with the authors of them hoping that this will, at last, bring others around to their point of view. And I know that very few people will change their minds about much of anything, no matter how well-written, extensively documented, or passionate the arguments happen to be. People like their own opinions best.
I don’t know exactly why the shooter chose his targets, although at this point it seems most likely that it was their sexual orientation. I do know that in order for him to so callously end their lives, he could no longer recognize his victims as fellow human beings, worthy of respect, consideration, and most of all, life. He had to pretend that because he saw them as different from himself, that somehow meant they were also less human than him. I believe that if he didn’t think that way, he couldn’t have done what he did.
Mostly, I know that I never want to think the way this murderer thought. I never want to think that because someone comes from another country or culture, belongs to a different religion, follows a different political ideology, or has a different sexual orientation, that person is somehow less of a person than me. Because horrible things happen when we forget that no matter how different we may seem to be, we’re really all just people, fellow humans struggling to find our way in a confusing world.
That much I know.